Submitted by Walter Neary for Historic Fort Steilacoom.
Visit the four buildings of Historic Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s annual Museum Day. Museum Day culminates the Lakewood museum’s tourist season schedule; the largest tour this year was a visit of 61 ROTC instructors gathered for an annual meeting at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“All of my soldiers really appreciated it and will take this knowledge and this sort of event back to their home stations with them to pass along to their cadets, the future leaders of our Army,” said Major Jenny Nixon, Annual Training Operations Officer, 4-414th REGT (SROTC), U.S. Army Reserves.
The Fort welcomed ROTC instructors from across the nation; just a few of the colleges represented by visitors were the University of Chicago, the University of Texas, San Antonio, University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Wheaton College, Ill, University of Colorado, Boulder, Texas A&M. Utah State University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Baylor University in Texas.
The visitors were there to see JBLM’s precedessor. Established in 1849, Fort Steilacoom was the first U.S. Army fort in Puget Sound. In these buildings and on these parade grounds walked people who went on to serve in the U.S. Civil War. The men and women in and around Fort Steilacoom from 1849 to 1868 played a key role in many local events including the Puget Sound Treaty War and the Pig War.
The fort is generally open on select Sunday afternoons on limited hours during the pandemic. This week, the museum is celebrating Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day on Sept. 18 with tours. Donations are appreciated, because these buildings cost money to keep up. But because it’s Museum Day, you can tour for free.
To enjoy that free tour, you just need to download one ticket for your group. That’s easy to do here. You don’t have to bring the ticket.
Be sure when you come to put our physical address, 9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, into your mapping system; if you just put “Fort Steilacoom” you may be directed to the park or a college campus that got their names from the fort. Those are different locations. We’re on the grounds of Western State Hospital, by the parade grounds at the entrance. Look for the cannons by the parade grounds at the hospital entrance.
A note about items at the fort
Fort Steilacoom was reconstructed in the 1980s by hundreds of community volunteers in and around Steilacoom and Lakewood. The fort has been sharing this message throughout 2021: If you have loaned an item to the fort then or now, it’s important you get in touch with the fort to make sure the item is recorded as a loan. If you don’t do that, it’s possible the item could be de-accessioned without the current fort staff knowing that it came from you. So if you have loaned an item to the fort, please confirm its status by emailing email@example.com